Welcome back for Part II of this interview.
SC: Cec, I remember reading about the dreadful fire that swept through your house a few years ago. How had God prepared you for this? Has this experience, or any other crisis in your life, influenced your writing?
CM: In 2007, fire destroyed our house and our son-in-law died before he could get out. As I waited for the fire trucks, the first words that tumbled out of my mouth were, “Who am I to think that I should be immune?” And I was at peace.
Within an hour, my best friend arrived and hugged me. “God has been preparing me for this,” I said. Again, those weren’t words I’d pondered; they came spontaneously. God had prepared me.
For example, one time in Kenya, I was beaten by a group of young men, who tried to kill me. Another time, armed robbers broke into our isolated house. God delivered me both times. More than ever before, I became aware of God’s faithfulness to comfort and to encourage.
When I face hardships, here’s what I say: "I serve a God of presence and not a God of protection." God is with me always. Sometimes we walk through storms and tragedies, but the Lord is at our side.
SC: I know you are a highly prolific writer. Do you stick to one book or subject at a time? Or do you work on several different projects?
CM: That's not easy to answer. When I'm writing for others, I send them a partial manuscript for their corrections or changes. While I wait, I work on something else.
Currently, I'm at work on my own projects and I usually stay with one until I finish a full draft. Once I complete the draft, I leave it, work on something else, and return later to polish it.
By then, I've had new thoughts and revise the manuscript at least once more before I do what I call my final polish.
I want to add that I work quickly and I seem to have no problems switching from one project to another.
SC: Do you write magazine articles today, or do you only do book-length manuscripts?
CM: These days, I write articles only by request.
There are two reasons. First, I like writing books because I can expand my thoughts and don't have to stop at 800 or 1,200 words. Second, I believe articles are great training opportunities for newer writers. The magazine market is shrinking and we established writers need to get out of the way to make room for emerging writers.
SC: Apart from your heavy writing schedule, you teach at writing conferences, run mentoring classes, and often speak at churches or other venues. How do you prevent yourself from burning out?
CM: I have an enormous amount of energy; I'm highly self-disciplined; and I'm fast at everything I do. Those are three things that keep me going. A fourth would be that I truly love what I do. People give me money for having fun!
I try to be away from home no more than one week a month. When away, I like to combine it with a writers conference, preaching at a church, and speaking at Celebrate Recovery meetings, and any other groups who invite me.
I'm fairly extroverted so I think of it this way. If I stay at my desk and work hard for three weeks, God rewards me and lets me interact with people.
One more thing: When I finish a writing project, I reward myself with half a day to read, watch TV, play in the garden, go to lunch with a friend—or a combination.
SC: What are you working on at present?
CM: I've barely completed a manuscript that will come out this fall called Making Sense When Life Doesn’t. I did a book on male sexual abuse that came out last year called When a Man You Love Was Abused. I sent a proposal for a second book with the title, Not Quite Healed. The editor likes it and I hope to receive a contract soon. I'm already researching and outlining that book.
I write gift books for Harvest House Publishers. Three are in print; two more will be out within the next year. Last week I proposed one (as yet untitled) on the secrets of long-term marriage (Shirley and I have been married 56 years), and another on the stages of marriage.
SC: How do you relax? Do you have any non-writing interests? I know you do a lot of running, for example. Do you think about your writing when you run?
CM: I'm a confirmed runner. I'm on the street between 4:30 and 5:00 every morning and run 30 miles a week. I love running in the dark. There are few distractions and I have a strong sense of God's presence.
Unless I'm struggling with something specific in my writing, I don't think about my projects. For me, the unconscious part of my mind and heart work so that when I sit before my computer, new thoughts come to me or I instantly know a better way to write a paragraph.
I usually leave my computer around 4:00 in the afternoon and play in the yard. I'm an avid gardener, have what they call a green thumb, and I spend about an hour a day pulling weeds and planting flowers.
I'm a fast, avid reader and finish at least one book a week.
I spend the evening with Shirley. This is our time together and I rarely allow anything to interrupt me after 6:00 in the evening.
SC: One last question. You obviously don’t want to be inundated with emails. What is the best way readers can get in contact with you?
CM: The best way is to go to my Website: www.cecilmurphey.com. I read every email. If people care enough to contact me, I want to respond to them.
I also have two blogs that I update twice weekly:
www.menshatteringthesilence.blogspot.com—a blog about male sexual abuse.
www.cecmurpheyswritertowriter.blogspot.com— a blog to help writers learn the craft.
SM: Cec, thank you again for being prepared to give of your time in this way. Thank you for all you do to encourage Christian writers. The Lord bless you in all your endeavours.
Award-winning writer Cecil (Cec) Murphey is the author or co-author of more than 120 books, including the NY Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson).
Recent publications include Getting to Heaven: Departing Instructions for Your Life Now (2011); When a Man You Love Was Abused and Knowing God, Knowing Myself, both 2010 releases. He is also the author of When God Turned off the Lights, When Someone You Love Has Cancer, and Christmas Miracles, all 2009 releases.